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Media > Newsletters > Law Enforcement Bulletin > May 2014 > Search Warrants (Affidavits and Corroboration of Information): State of Ohio v. Bertloff

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Search Warrants (Affidavits and Corroboration of Information): State of Ohio v. Bertloff

Question: What do you need to state in an affidavit in support of a warrant when most of the information came from a confidential informant?
Quick Answer: When information comes from a confidential informant, you need to state how you corroborated the information and why the confidential informant is reliable.

State of Ohio v. Bertloff, Eighth Appellate District, Cuyahoga County, March 20, 2014
Facts: Lakewood Police Department Detective John Guzik obtained a warrant based on the affidavit, including a significant amount of information obtained from a confidential informant. The CI told Guzik that a man named “Brian” was trafficking heroin, packaged it in his residence, and transported it in a silver Chevy Malibu. Guzik observed the subject’s residence and the vehicle, and the CI positively identified Brian Bertloff from his BMV photo. The CI then made two controlled purchases with Bertloff. Guzik saw Bertloff arrive at both “meets” in the Malibu, complete the sale to the CI, and immediately return to his residence. Bertloff claimed the information provided in the affidavit didn’t give probable cause to issue a search warrant. The court disagreed.
Importance: When preparing an affidavit to support a search warrant, there must be probable cause that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place. The affidavits must provide believable and reliable evidence supporting the claim. In cases where you are using a CI, it is important to state how and why the CI is reliable, how the CI obtained the information, and how you personally know these facts.  It is always best practice to corroborate an informant’s information. In this case, Guzik did it right. He confirmed the information given by the CI by observing the residence and vehicle and by performing two controlled purchases, which he watched.
More on Search Warrants
Can I Search the Seized Computer? You submit an affidavit for a warrant to search the house of a man you suspect of rape, gross sexual imposition, and unlawful sexual conduct involving a minor. Your affidavit includes the police report from the victim that details multiple nonconsensual activities between the suspect and victim as well as several emails the victim received from the suspect. A subpoena to the suspect’s Internet provider confirms he sent the emails. The judge issues a warrant, and you seize several computers. Did the affidavit provide enough information to support probable cause that evidence of the alleged crimes would be found on the man’s computer? The court in Hosseinipour said yes. By providing the emails and Internet provider records, the affidavit had evidence that corroborated the connection between suspect’s activity and the need to seizure the computer. State v. Hosseinipour, Fifth Appellate District, Delaware County, March 18, 2014
He Bought from Our Confidential Informant — Twice. You set up a confidential informant to conduct two controlled drug buys from a suspect. The drug buys are done two weeks apart, and the informant is equipped with monitoring gear. After the first buy, you follow the suspect back to his residence. Before the second buy, you set up surveillance at the suspect’s house, and you see him leave the house and go to the location of the buy. Based on these facts, you write an affidavit for a search warrant for the suspect’s house. Was there probable cause for the search warrant?  The court in Morris said yes. An affidavit for a warrant must give timely information and include facts closely related to the time of issuing the warrant. Here, the drug buys were two weeks apart, and the warrant was issued the day after the second buy. Also, the surveillance of the suspect’s house corroborated the information given by the informant. The affidavit gave enough timely, validated information to show probable cause to believe the officers would find contraband at the suspect’s house that day. State v. Morris, Seventh District, Mahoning County, March 20, 2014